The Greenwood Education Foundation will be inducting three new honorees in the Hall of Honor this year at its annual Alumni Luncheon. The luncheon will be held Saturday, October 5th at noon in the Student Union on the Greenwood High School campus. Special recognition will be given to the Class of 1963 for their 50th Class Reunion, and the Class of 1988 for their 25th Reunion. Other classes to be recognized are the Class of 1953 for their Sixtieth Class Reunion and the Class of 1958 for their Fifty-fifth Reunion. Graduates and members of the community are invited to attend the luncheon to honor the new members for their induction into the Hall of Honor and to become reacquainted with fellow graduates. The GHS Library will be opened at 10:30 AM for reunion visits and to share class pictures and yearbooks. A tour of the high school campus and buildings, the Rock Gym and the Administration Building will be given at 3:00 leaving from the Student Union. Cost of the ticket for the luncheon is $20, and tickets may be purchased from the Foundation at 440 East Gary, at Central Office at 220 North Main or by contacting JoElla Skaggs at 996-4141. Admission to the homecoming football game on Friday night, October 4th is included in the price of the ticket. The homecoming coronation begins at 6:30 with kick-off against Little Rock Parkview at 7 p.m.
The Foundation’s Hall of Honor has been established to recognize distinguished graduates and associates of the Greenwood School System. The three new members of the Hall of Honor are Edwin Hicks, GHS Class of 1922, Author, Dorothy Pazdera Weisenfels, Greenwood Schools Teacher and Principal, and Damon Sadler, Class of 1964, Greenwood Schools Teacher and Principal.
Edwin Prentice Hicks was a prolific writer who lived most of his life in Sebastian County, attended and graduated from Greenwood Schools in 1922, wrote two books, four stories that were made into movies and was published in many of the popular magazines of his time. He was the brother of Juanita Hicks Maestri and Olive Hicks Been. He and his wife also taught creative writing for several years at Westark Community College.
Hicks graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1926 with a degree in English and Journalism. He met his future wife, Evelyn Gambrell, while studying at Fayetteville, where she was working on a law degree. She soon started practicing law in Fayetteville, so they remained there a few years and Edwin worked as chief of the Fayetteville bureau for the Southwest Times Record. During that time he sold his first story to Colliers, a prominent and popular magazine. They soon moved to Fort Smith, where he continued to work for the Southwest Times Record as a reporter and feature writer and continued selling stories and articles to national publications. Edwin eventually went to work for KFPW and then later KFSA radio stations in a time when radio was more prominent than it is now. Throughout that time he was selling stories to Colliers, American, Redbook and Good Housekeeping, all popular magazines at the time, as well as selling stories to several national mystery magazines, such as Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock and Mike Shayne.
One of his stories, "The Jay Walker" was made into an animated cartoon that was nominated for an Academy Award, but was beaten out by "Mister Magoo." Another story he sold to Colliers was made into a movie called "Hot Summer Night," which featured Leslie Nielsen and was praised as one of the better examples of Film Noir.
Hicks also wrote and had published two books, "Belle Starr and her Pearl" and "The Fort Smith Story," based on the historic beginnings of Fort Smith.
In the early 1970’s, Westark was looking for an instructor of creative writing for seniors, and Hicks took the job, with his wife as his assistant. They stayed in those posts for ten years, during which time several of their students sold stories, articles and poems to newspapers and magazines.
Dorothy Pazdera Weinsenfels was born in Dardanelle, Arkansas, the seventh of eight children. She graduated from St. Scholastica Academy in Fort Smith where a great and wonderful nun who taught her in grades 5-8 inspired her to become a nun and a teacher. She received both her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from the University of Arkansas.
Teaching for her was a lot of fun, full of many experiences and adventures. During her first year as a teacher (Ratcliff, Arkansas) she had 17 students in four grades in one room with six hours of college credit (2 courses). She stated "We learned together!!!" and "we used a lot of chalk". The kids wanted to learn, the parents supported the school and she wanted to teach, and her first year teaching taught her a lot about how people live.
She then continued teaching in Amarillo, Texas with a principal who expected and demanded perfection in everything that was done in the classroom. She noted that her lesson plans were so neat and well written that they could have been published. She attended the University of Arkansas in 1970-71 to add to and complete the college education she started long ago.
Her career in Greenwood began in the fall of 1971 and for the next 28 years she cared for and nurtured Greenwood students (eight years as a 3rd grade teacher, 14 years as Assistant Principal and seven years as principal at Westwood Elementary). The 28 years at Greenwood saw lots of changes with "great teachers, wonderful supportive parents, great administration and some of the best kids on this earth". Her career covered classroom additions, classroom moves, use of computers, more stringent state standards and state testing, and overall rapid growth in the Greenwood School District. She was the "overseer" of the addition of Westwood Elementary School where she spent the last seven years of her teaching career as principal. Her remarkable career was highlighted by "doing all the things most people do who love their job and the people with whom they work". Kids basically are good – they need someone to love them, someone to teach them and someone to lead them on their way". Pazdera remarked that that she had many people in her life that taught and nurtured her, and her teaching career became her way of "paying it forward". She retired from education in 2000 and in 2002 found another career at Farmers Bank, working there for five years and working with kids through the bank’s involvement in the community. In 2007, she married Ed Weisenfels and is currently enjoying the life of retirement.
She is a member of Greenwood Business and Professional Women, Arkansas Elementary Principal Association, Elementary School Council, Kappa Kappa Iota, Delta Kappa Gamma, and the state and local Association of Childhood Education International. She has been honored as the Business and Professional Woman of the Year and Junior Officer of the Year at Farmer’s Bank. She currently is an active member of St. Sabina and Mary Catholic Church in Jenny Lind and a member of the Focus Club in Greenwood.
Damon Sadler graduated from Greenwood High School in 1964 and is a life-long Greenwood resident. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1970 with a Bachelors of Science degree and began teaching for Raymond Wells in the fall of 1970 moving from room to room in the present Administration Building teaching junior high math and general math. A few years later he transferred to the high school to teach Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. He also spent twenty years driving bus #10, a route which included the home in which he was raised.
Sadler credits Mr. Arl McConnell, Greenwood High School math teacher and principal, as his inspiration to become a teacher. Dale Sadler, Damon’s father, served on the Greenwood School Board for many years and instilled in his son the importance of education as a way of service to the community. Sadler was also a facilitator for a grant awarded to the Greenwood Education Foundation from Damon Beach for the junior high library. Beach was a book salesman and a good friend of Sadler’s father and with his donation established the Damon and Anne Langston Beach Memorial Endowment with the Foundation.
Mr. Sadler wanted his students to learn and swayed them with a no-nonsense, down-home style of teaching with a very identifiable southern drawl. He is known for being "tough" but also very fair and kind. He frequently reminded his staff that "parents were sending us their best" and his staff, regardless of the position they held, was expected to reciprocate with their best.
Sadler became assistant principal at the high school in the fall of 1992, assistant principal at Wells Junior High School in 1994 and principal at Wells Junior High in 1997. He married Marilyn Moschner in 1968 and they have two daughters, Mandy Walker and Sarah Wirth and six grandchildren. He has served as a deacon/elder and Sunday School Superintendent at Mt. Zion Baptist Church for over 35 years. He takes a great deal of pride in his career in Greenwood Schools and is spending his retirement riding motorcycles, restoring old trucks and mentoring grandchildren.